From on top of the world on my last day in Australia to the bottom of a bunk bed (not just literally) on my first day in New Zealand, the start of my trip was all but cheery. Having spent the first day walking around rainy Christchurch, which, by the way, I’m pretty sure did not give me the best it has to offer, I was happy to leave the place first thing on Friday morning. It was raining; of course it was, but I didn’t mind.
I’d bought myself a 45-hour bus pass with which I could utilize the public bus network in any direction for up to 45 hours, so I got on the bus, made myself comfortable and started going through the 8000+ photos on my phone in order to make some space for the wonders of this country. A way for me to process Australia, I figured, once I realized what a project it’d be.
I fell asleep.
By the time I woke up the suburbs of Christchurch had turned into valleys of green full of sheep. We arrived at Lake Tekapo just before noon, and I got my first glimpse of the beauty of this country – stunning, they say. The view from the parking lot was beautiful, but compared to Lake Pukaki where we arrived just an hour later it was just a lake, which, in turn, was just another lake compared to my final destination, the tallest mountain of New Zealand, Mt Cook. Now that was something!
I checked in at the YHA that I’d booked for two nights. Knowing nothing about this place, the first thing I did was once again go to the reception and ask them what they’d recommend for my 2-day-visit. 15 minutes later I was on my way to Hooker Valley to have a closer look at Mt Cook.
Despite being mostly flat, it was an exhausting walk – maybe because I hadn’t slept so much in the nights before, maybe because I wasn’t feeling too lighthearted. What am I doing here? I found myself thinking of everything and nothing, passing by groups of people of all ages and nationalities, stopping only to take a photo every now and then.
What for, I found myself wondering. Why do I take all these photos? I hardly ever go back to have a look at the majority of them, anyways, so why do I do it? They’re just photos; snapshots from the past, of moments long gone that, sadly, we cannot go back to no matter how we wish we could. And if we can’t go back, neither can others, so why not just skip the photos and live in the moment, take in the view or whatever it is that you’re wanting to take a photo of and store it in your mind, be present, there and then? The more photos we take, the less meaningful they seem to become, anyways, at least for me.
So why do I do it? Why do I chase the perfect shot so badly?
To post it on Instagram in order to get likes and comments and– yeah, what exactly?
I had to think about it for a while.
I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with social media for as long as I can remember, but I feel like it’s slowly started to shift. Having worked in content production I no longer put too much thought or energy into what I come across in my feed, I know better than to believe that it’s real life. Life happens off screen: therefore, what’s on Instagram is not (all of) life, but the oftentimes edited peak of someone’s day.
I can now post a picture without feeling like I’m faking it because I’m not, which is something that I used to struggle with a lot back in the days when more often than not the grass was, or at least seemed to be, greener on the other side of the fence. I post a photo, not because I want people to think that my life is AMAZING but because I’ve (finally?) started seeing it as a way to connect with people; to reach out to family and friends, old and new, near and far, to not go through this alone, especially here where that’s precisely what I am: alone.
I post a photo and I write, not because I have to, but because I want to. Writing has become a way for me to process my thoughts, feelings and insights, to learn and grow and through that maybe, hopefully, inspire someone to do what they’ve always dreamed of doing but never dared to, because life is what you make of it. I want to shed light on the fact that life is not perfect, not even when you’re traveling. I currently find myself in what’s arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, however I cannot really appreciate it just yet, not the way I’d like to nor as much as I feel like I should, because in my mind I’m still in Sydney and I have no one to share it with. I’m all alone. It’s me, myself and I, as goes that old school hiphop song that will forever remind me of Bellagio.
Life is not black and white; more so, at times, a spectrum of grey. Highs are followed by lows, and what’s shared online is mostly highs. I want to change that. At the end of the day we’re only human, every single one of us, with good days and bad days and happiness and sadness and feelings that at first seem to make no sense at all (hello, I’m in New Zealand so why can’t I just f****** enjoy it!?), but when we dare to speak out we realize we’re not alone. We’re so not alone. We’re only human and we’re all looking for human connection, and what creates connection if not authenticity?
Therefore, even though I’m grateful for being here, surrounded by these snowcapped mountains and breathtaking views everywhere I look, I’m a bit sad – sad to have to close another chapter, and sad to not have anyone to share it with.
So, the point of it all?
Human connection – if even through a photo on Instagram.
No wo/man is an island, you know.